Cosmetic Surgeons Are Building L.A. Megamansions, and the Results are Over-the-Top


It could only happen in Los Angeles: Celebrity plastic surgeons are getting into the megamansion-building business.

The latest entrant to the market is Alex Khadavi, a 48-year-old dermatologist known for everything from Botox to buttock-enhancement procedures as well as for a clientele that has included singer Lance Bass and actor David Hasselhoff. Dr. Khadavi is listing his recently completed Bel-Air megamansion for $87.777 million, making it one of the highest-priced properties to have gone on the market in recent months.

Dr. Khadavi joins the likes of Raj Kanodia, doctor to the Kardashian clan and so-called “King of L.A. Rhinoplasties,” and Paul Nassif, a facial-plastic surgeon known for his role in the reality-television series “Botched,” in diverting their attention to the high-end development game. Dr. Kanodia first listed his Bel-Air megamansion for $180 million in 2018, while Dr. Nassif is listing a nearly completed mansion in the same area for $32 million.

Alex Khadavi sits atop a DJ booth, which rises on hydraulics, at his Los Angeles mega-mansion.



Photo:

Joe Bryant

Dr. Khadavi—whose jet-black eyebrows, chiseled features and perfectly coiffed hair allows him to seamlessly blend in with his clients on his Instagram account—says he got carried away with the project. He says he paid $16 million for the existing property in 2013 and had planned to spend roughly $10 million more on a new glassy contemporary home. Instead, he devoted seven years and roughly $30 million to the more-than-21,000-square-foot compound.

“It’s like when you go to a car dealership to buy a Toyota and they show you a Ferrari or a Lamborghini,” he says of choosing the materials and finishes. “It’s like, ‘Hey, I want that one!’ You can’t pass it up.”

The result is over-the-top, even for Los Angeles. Known as “Palazzo di Vista,” the modern seven-bedroom contemporary sits behind enormous mirrored-steel gates on an elevated parcel of land with 360-degree views spanning from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Channel Islands.

Facial surgeon Paul Nassif is among the other cosmetic-surgery experts trying their hand at real estate development. Pictured, a rendering of the home he is building nearby.



Photo:

OMEGA RENDER; Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

In the middle of the grand foyer, a push of a button reveals a surprise: The floor opens up to reveal a DJ platform on a hydraulic lift. Push another button, and smoke machines send fog throughout “the cube”—the surrounding glassed-in living room area that also has a glass-bottomed bridge overlooking the space.

In the pool outside, several powerful jets are set to automatically begin pumping the water in time with music, so guests in the water can feel the bass. The pool also is the setting for a digital show that Dr. Khadavi likens to Disneyland’s elaborate “World of Color” attraction. A rotatable 3-D laser projector on the roof casts light in a rhombic-shape up to 1,650 square feet over the pool.

The purpose of the light show isn’t to project princesses; it is designed to display the latest art-world craze: NFT artwork. An NFT, which stands for “nonfungible tokens,” is a digital asset that serves as a kind of deed to prove ownership of various digital artifacts, like works of art.

In addition to the NFT pool display, the home also includes a “multisensory” NFT art gallery comprising seven indoor large-screen media displays dotted throughout the house. Valued at $7 million, the art collection is also available for sale and includes pieces by Ghost Girl—a 3-D artist who offers visual experiences for “VJing,” a kind of real-time visual performance—and Bighead, a record producer and DJ who worked on the production of the 2017 hit “Gucci Gang” by hip-hop artist Lil Pump.

The home also includes a glass elevator that is positioned to look as though it is plunging into a koi pond as it heads to the basement. There is also a formal dining room, a Champagne-tasting room, a movie theater, a massage room, a car museum and a detached guesthouse with an outdoor tequila bar, according to listing agents Aaron Kirman of Compass and Mauricio Umansky of the Agency. Dr. Khadavi planted 56 Moroccan date palm trees around the perimeter of the property for privacy.

Dr. Khadavi, who oversees two dermatology practices in Los Angeles, says his pursuit of perfection became all-consuming. Within the first year, he had fired his architect. Soon after, he replaced his contractor and got rid of his interior designer. “I’ve pretty much been doing it myself,” he says. “I tell people I got a degree in interior design from

Pinterest.

There were other sources of inspiration. The doctor says the proportions of the house were inspired by the “golden ratio” of Italian mathematician Fibonacci. The sevens in the asking price are a nod to Dr. Khadavi’s favorite number; he and his family moved to the U.S. from Iran when he was 7 to escape the revolution.

Dr. Khadavi’s home is positioned on a tall parcel of land, with views encompassing the San Gabriel Mountains and the Channel Islands.



Photo:

Joe Bryant

No expense was spared. “Instead of going for the $10-a-square-foot marble, I went for the $150 to $200 a square foot marble,” Dr. Khadavi says. “This property deserves the best.”

When it came to refining the aesthetics of the house, the dermatologist says he drew on his work. “When I do injectables in people’s faces… I always look and see what I could do above and beyond to make this person better, “ he says. “Every person is beautiful, you have to make them more beautiful.”

Plastic surgeons like Dr. Khadavi are among a larger group of high-net-worth individuals who piled into Los Angeles’s luxury housing development space over the past few years. With the market heating up in the early 2010s, many wealthy people with well-positioned parcels of land began building properties geared toward foreign buyers and billionaires, says Stephen Shapiro of Westside Estate Agency, who is not involved in the home. Suddenly, everyone was a developer, including those with limited or no real-estate experience. That boom resulted in an oversupply of spec homes.

For some of these surgeons, building a distinctive architectural home is a way to express themselves in a new way. “One of the reasons I built [my house] was to express my artistic vision through another medium, in addition to the scarless rhinoplasty and facial enhancement,” Dr. Kanodia says.

For his part, Dr. Nassif says he found that the patience and attention to detail he honed in his surgery work proved useful in real estate. “You have to look at everything with very scrutinous glasses in surgery,” he says. “I’m doing the same thing with the house.”

In real estate, like in surgery, it’s wise to expect the unexpected, Dr. Nassif says. “You’re dealing with problems all the time,” he says. “An issue comes up with a contractor or you can’t get marble into the Port of California because of Covid delays. It’s never as easy as you think it would be.”

The rush of new contemporary spec homes built in the Los Angeles area has put downward pressure on prices. While Dr. Nassif says he’s had significant interest in his home since listing it earlier this year, Dr. Kanodia recently slashed the asking price of his home to $99 million from $180 million. Developers like Nile Niami, known widely as the king of Los Angeles spec homes, handed the keys over to his lenders on at least one project and is facing default on others, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Raj Kanodia is listing his own Bel-Air mansion for $99 million.



Photo:

Michal Czerwonka for The Wall Street Journal

The spiraling costs of Dr. Khadavi’s project also had consequences. While he initially thought he might live in the property, Dr. Khadavi says he is now selling it largely because he can’t afford to keep it. It’s also too large for him, his girlfriend and his goldendoodle Cheetos. “I don’t have a large family, and I don’t have the financial capability to enjoy the house,” he says. “I borrowed a lot of money to get it to this level, and I can’t afford living in it.”

Anyone living in the mansion would “need to probably have a couple of butlers and a couple of maids,” he says.

Mr. Umansky says the house is an entertainer’s paradise, and he is confident he will find a buyer looking for that party lifestyle.

“In order to be great you have to dare to be bad. You have to take risks,” Mr. Umansky says, noting that cookie-cutter houses don’t stand out in a crowded market. “There are these tech and cryptocurrency guys who are still young and who want to have fun.”

Write to Katherine Clarke at katherine.clarke@wsj.com

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